Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Small Fruits & Berries
by National Gardening Association Editors
Strawberries will do best in soil that has been thoroughly prepared. If your future strawberry bed was plowed last year, you're ahead of the game. But if you're starting with land that was in sod, allow an extra year or the soil will be tough to cultivate, and you'll really pay later when you are confronted with weeds (especially grass) and grubs. Strawberries do best in soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Apply aged manure and a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 (1/2 pound per 25-foot row) before planting in the spring. To further improve the soil, you can plant a winter cover crop. If you have heavy soil, raised beds will provide better drainage and encourage healthy roots.
Planting the Berries
You can usually set out your new plants in the strawberry bed when the trees in your area are just beginning to leaf out. Suppliers try to ship them at the appropriate time for your region. If you're not ready when the plants arrive, you can store them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Let out any moisture from the shipping bag and wrap the roots in plastic. Do not let the roots dry out. Space your rows 4 feet apart, and leave 18 inches between plants. Cut back the roots of your new plants to not more than 6 inches long; put them in a bucket and soak the roots in water for about an hour just before planting. Make absolutely sure you set them in the ground at the right depth so the roots don't dry out and the crown isn't buried. Pack the soil against the roots, and water each plant with about 1/2 pint of water mixed with a soluble fertilizer; don't overdose.